On Christmas weekend 2008, President-elect Barack Obama ditched a pool of reporters assigned to follow his every move so he could visit Sea Life Park in Honolulu with his two daughters. According to this piece in Politico, it was first time Obama’s motorcade had traveled without any press pool “perhaps” since the election.
The Obamas left the park at 1:40, after attending the interactive dolphin show. Based on his dry clothes, it did not appear the president-elect swam with the dolphins
So adorable. Anyway, I searched the Internet to ferret out any outrage from media over Obama’s abnormal conduct, which not only threatened the First Amendment but the very foundations of the republic itself. I came up empty. (Updates: In 2010, President Obama slipped away from the press pool again so he could play a round of golf during a G-20 meeting in Canada. That same year he “quietly” broke protocol to watch his daughter play soccer. )
I’m sure pundits and reports were really upset on the inside, because when President-elect Donald Trump ditched his press pool yesterday — he was at spotted at 21 in Manhattan by an apparently very well-compensated Bloomberg staffer — the media acted as if he had broken the sacred trust of the American people.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 16, 2016
The American people *depend* on accurate info re potus whereabouts. Hoping for an appreciation of this, to uphold solemn WH/press tradition.
— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) November 16, 2016
concerns about the president-elect telling reporters he was not leaving the tower and then sneaking out for dinner aren’t a process gripe
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 16, 2016
Amazes me ppl don’t understand importance of press remaining w/ POTUS/ or PEOTUS in the event something happens out of WH. It’s protective https://t.co/93uowc1VnZ
— Noah Gray (@NoahGrayCNN) November 16, 2016
Thankfully, professionals like Rachel Maddow were able to break down this unnerving development without ever losing their cool. Thoughts and prayers.
The Trump camp claimed its transition team has not yet established any protocol for the “protective pool” of journalists. Considering how much tweeting he does, I assume our next president has a cell phone and can be easily reached, but evidently he also needs to be watched. The Huffington Post picks it up from there:
The incident continues a pattern of Trump and his team limiting press access and violating basic tenets of press freedom and creates serious concerns about whether he will abide by traditions like holding press briefings and allowing reporters on Air Force One when he is president.
If the above is true, and it’s extraordinarily important for reporters to watch Trump eat his steak, then we can agree that the media gave Obama a pass when he and his daughters ran off to be alone in Hawaii. Obama, after all, violated the basic tenets of press freedom. No one in the unbiased media really cared. Which seems weird.